Monday, 10 June 2013

Sometimes I want to be a Historical Romance Writer.

So a while ago I wrote this little short for the Writer's Challenge.  Please note that it is probably very derivative of my favourite historical author.  I have all Georgette Heyer's books and they live on my Prozac shelf.


If only she didn't have to walk.  In spite of the horses standing idle, the carriage hadn’t been an option.  Not without alerting Mama.  Her soft kid boots were scuffed and dusty and Letty was almost sure she had a blister on her heel.  The pelisse, so cosy in the early hours, now raised an unbecoming glow in the heat of mid-morning.

Running away from home seemed fraught with difficult choices.  The distance to Little Padbury that appeared an easy stroll from Beaumont now stretched into a vast distance when encumbered by two hatboxes.  It was to be hoped that dear Mama would allow her trunk to be sent on once she was settled in her new position.

To be sure, Mrs Leigh and her adorable sons may be a little challenging for a young lady less than twelve months out of the schoolroom herself.  But after all, two boys barely out of the nursery shouldn’t be harder to handle than the young men a young lady encounters on her first season.  Indeed, very young boys were known to have an aversion to kissing.

Letty frowned at the memory of that kiss.  It had ruined everything.  Pleasurable at the time.  In fact rather more than pleasurable.  But the resulting proposal when the rakish Duke had been caught by that prosy Mrs Pikely, had not been the way Letty wanted to become the Duchess of Beaumont.

With a sigh, she stepped off the dusty road and settled down on a tree stump, a hatbox on each side of her.  Hopefully a farmer on his way to Little Padbury might take her up in his wagon.

Untying her bonnet, she used the large poke to fan herself.  The sound of horses coming at speed almost made her drop it, but they were coming from the opposite direction to Beaumont.  As the equipage came around the corner, she recognised it as a high perch phaeton and four.  Driven by a Corinthian of the first stare, as betokened by the numerous shoulder capes on his coat and the reckless tilt of his hat on the dark, curling locks.

At first she thought he might sweep past her, but at the last minute he checked his horses and her heart sank.  His hawk-like visage was intimidating and those grey eyes colder than a winters day.  A well set up man of close to thirty with powerful shoulders and strong thighs in the tight fitting breeches.  She felt her heart beat a little faster.  But it was the long fingered elegant hands that drew her eyes as he held the high fettled livestock with ease.  Hands that could be both strong and gentle.
“Going somewhere, My Lady?”

“Indeed yes.  But do not be concerned.  I can make my own way.”

“I doubt there will be any others on this road.  It’s not market day you know.  You’d far better come with me.”

“But I’m going to catch the Mail at Little Padbury.  I intend to be a governess.”

“You’ve missed it for today.  It comes through very early in the morning.  Come child, I’ll not hurt you.”

Reluctantly, Letty stood up, limping a little as she approaching the phaeton.  She was tired and hot and thirsty and she only had a few guinea’s in her reticule. 

Seated, not without difficulty, she waited until they were bowling along at a rapid pace.  “I suppose you’ve come home to see if your bride is enceinte with the expected heir.”

His glance raked her.  “And is she?”

“No.  So I suppose we must go through the whole farce again.”

“Was my lovemaking so distasteful to you?”

“Oh no.  Well, perhaps it was a little painful at first.  But afterwards…”  She could feel the warmth rising.  Her face must be blotchy but he continued to look at her in the way that made her all prickly so perhaps he didn’t notice.

“Then why did you treat me like a pariah the next day?  All that prim and proper ‘My Lord’ and not letting me kiss you.”

“Mama came in while you were out with the bailiff.  She reminded me that I must do my duty as you have need of an heir.  She also said I must try not to notice you dined with Mrs Massey the eve of our wedding.”

She sniffed unbecomingly and continued in a mournful tone.  “I fear I am rather the noticing kind.  But perhaps I would not be a very good governess.  I have no talent for managing young men it seems.  If you forgive me for running away and take me home, I shall try to be a conformable wife to you Gervaise.”

“If you are going to throw every youthful indiscretion at me, Letty, I shan’t think you conformable at all.  I don’t suppose your Mama thought to tell you Mrs Massey has been Moncreiff’s familiar for the last five years.  I dined with both of them and several others beside.”

“But I distinctly remember she was your very special friend when we first met.”

“Your memory is very inconvenient.  I’ll have you know I’ve been a paragon ever since a scrubby little schoolgirl fell out of an apple tree at my feet and stole my heart.”

Letty’s heart pounded in a disgracefully unladylike manner.  “She did?  I mean, I did?”

“Have I ever lied to you Letty?”

“I don’t recall so.  You’ve always been very kind.  All the girls at Mrs Sutter’s Academy agreed you sent the nicest bonbons.”

“Oh Letty,  you’ve been an unconscionable time growing up.  I know you are still very young, but I couldn’t wait any longer.  Especially with those young fribbles always hanging around.  I wanted to be your first kiss.  Your first everything.”

“But you were, you are.  Besides, I’m seventeen and quite, quite grownup.”

He laughed in a way that thrilled her.  “Yes, my sweet.  You are quite, quite grownup.  In the nicest way.”

The phaeton slowed under his skilful handling.  And then he kissed her.

A Touch of History

I'm a Georgette Heyer fan from way back.  You can tell this by the fact that I use the word Odious in my everyday speech.  I also read Roberta Gellis and quite a few 'bodice rippers' in my teens.  I also love Ellis Peters Cadfael mysteries with those sweet little romances in each one.

My Fair Concubine (Tang Dynasty, #3)This is my first Jeannie Lin historical and a great introduction to a very different era and culture. The setting of the Tang Dynasty in 800AD is beautifully rendered in a simple and unobtrusive manner. The heroine Yan Ling is the lowest of the low, a foundling working in a tea-house where Fei Long is seeking his runaway sister. When he realises Pearl's flight is to some extent his fault, having ignored her early pleas for help, Fei Long lets her go with her lover.

A combination of his absorption in his problem and Yan Ling's fiery temper results in the tea-house girl being cut loose and a man in need of a Princess to save his family honour is not too proud to pick up a stray servant to train her to take his sister's place as a treaty bride with a far off kingdom.

Of course in a romance it never works out quite so easily. Yan Ling is so much more than a mere servant and as he gets to know her, Fei Long finds that what she is inside becomes more important to him than what she can do for his family honour.

Yan Ling is intrigued from the start by this rather cool, controlled former soldier. As he teaches her the skills she needs, her feelings start to go astray. She finds herself not as practical as Fei Long insists.

Ms Lin introduces an interesting cast of characters, in particular the servant girl Dao, and the theatrical artist, Bai Shen who takes on training Yan Ling in the art of womanhood. A nice touch of irony from a male actor.

The romance between Yan Ling and Fei Long fairly sizzles even though we don't see any intimacy through most of the book. Yan Ling is the perfect foil for the buttoned up Fei Long, encouraging him to look beyond the rules and regulations and see Honour and Duty as tied up with the Heart rather than appearance and social acceptance.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and even though the solution to the problem was fairly clear only halfway through the story, the culmination of the story was very satisfying. Ms Lin has a nice strain of humour that runs through the book and the ending leaves you with a smile from the humour as well as the romance.